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Semergen. 2013 Jul-Aug;39(5):e8-11. doi: 10.1016/j.semerg.2012.06.006. Epub 2012 Aug 11.

[Neurological signs due to isolated vitamin B12 deficiency].

[Article in Spanish]

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Centro de Salud de Matamá, Vigo, España.


Isolated vitamin B12 deficiency is a common condition in elderly patients but uncommon in patients younger than 30 years, with an average age of onset between 60 and 70 years. This is because the dietary cobalamin, which is normally split by enzymes in meat in the presence of hydrochloric acid and pepsin in the stomach, is not released in the stomachs of elderly patients, usually due to achlorhydria. Although the body may be unable to release cobalamin it does retain the ability to absorb vitamin B12 in its crystalline form, which is present in multivitamin preparations. Other causes are due to drugs that suppress gastric acid production. Neurological signs of vitamin B12 deficiency can occur in patients with a normal haematocrit and red cell indices. They include paresthesia, loss of sensation and strength in the limbs, and ataxia. Reflexes may be slowed down or increased. Romberg and Babinsky signs may be positive, and vibration and position sensitivity often decreases. Behavoural disorders range from irritability and memory loss to severe dementia. The symptoms often do not fully respond to treatment. A case is presented of an isolated vitamin B12 deficiency in 27 year-old female patient who was seen in primary health care. During anamnesis she mentioned low back pain, to which she attributed the loss of strength and tenderness in the right side of the body, as well as the slow and progressive onset of accompanied headache for the previous 4 days.


Deficiency; Déficit; Manifestaciones neurológicas; Neurological manifestations; Vitamin B12; Vitamina B12

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